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Leading health organisations urge defibrillator owners across education sector to keep registering their life saving devices

Big push to pass milestone of 50,000 defibrillators on pioneering database 

Leading health organisations urge defibrillator owners across education sector to keep registering their life saving devices 

Ambulance services and charities are rallying defibrillator owners to register their devices on a ground-breaking national database called The Circuit in a big push to bring the number of mapped defibrillators past the 50,000 mark. This significant milestone would represent half of the estimated 100,000 defibrillators in the UK being registered on The Circuit. 

The Circuit’s aim is to map all public access defibrillators, so that when someone has a cardiac arrest, 999 call handlers can direct bystanders to the nearest registered defibrillator while they wait for the ambulance to arrive.  

There are more than 30,000 out-of-hospital cardiac arrests every year in the UK, but fewer than one in 10 people survive. Immediate CPR and defibrillation can more than double the chances of survival – however public access defibrillators are used in less than one in 10 of cases. 

To improve survival rates, the British Heart Foundation (BHF), Resuscitation Council UK (RCUK) St John Ambulance, and Association of Ambulance Chief Executives (AACE), have come together to roll out The Circuit: the national defibrillator network.  

Still far to go 

Over 46,000defibrillators have been added to the database so far, spurring on the latest appeal to defibrillator guardians to pass the 50,000 mark.

It is estimated that tens of thousands of defibrillators remain unknown to ambulance services, meaning emergency services cannot direct bystanders to them in the event of a cardiac arrest.

The BHF, RCUK, St John Ambulance and AACE are urging anyone who looks after defibrillators in places such as offices, communities, shopping centres and leisure centres, as well as in public places, to register them on The Circuit.  

The Circuit, which is already live in 13 of the 14 ambulance service areas across the UK and will become nationwide soon, could help to save thousands of lives over the coming years – but it is vital that as many defibrillators as possible are registered on the database for it to work effectively.   

Dr Charmaine Griffiths, Chief Executive at the British Heart Foundation, said: “A cardiac arrest can happen anywhere, at any time, to anyone, but quick CPR and defibrillation can double someone’s chance of survival. Minutes count and knowing where the nearest defibrillator is could be the difference between life and death. 

“We’re making great strides down the path of getting a truly nationwide picture of where defibrillators are located, but now isn’t the time to slow down the pace. We’re tantalizingly close to a major milestone of 50,000 defibrillators mapped on The Circuit, and we’ll need the help of every defibrillator owner in the UK to help us to smash that target .  

“If you or someone you know is a defibrillator guardian, then we urge you to register your device. One simple action could save someone’s life.”

The Circuit is now live in every ambulance service area except London, which joins soon. Those who own and maintain defibrillators, also called defibrillator guardians, can register their devices even if they live in London, ready for when the London Ambulance Service connects.  

The organisations are aiming to see at least 20,000 more defibrillators unknown to The Circuit registered by the end of 2022 – bringing the total number up to around 70,000.   

Paul’s story 

A defibrillator and CPR saved Paul Sowerby’s life in February 2020. 

The father-of-three was playing squash with his daughter Sophie when, out of nowhere, he collapsed. He had gone into cardiac arrest.

Sophie didn’t panic. She immediately ran to get her boyfriend, Jake, and his friend, Jack, who were playing next door. Jack rang 999 and Jake started CPR, while Sophie found the squash club’s defibrillator, and the club manager.

Former journalist Paul, from North Yorkshire, said: “There were no warning bells – I just suddenly collapsed.

“My daughter was amazing. She parked all the emotion at seeing her dad crash down on the squash court floor, and swung into action. People can do amazing things when they have to, and her quick thinking saved my life.

“I would encourage everyone to learn CPR and to know where the nearest defibrillator is – because you never know when it might be you standing next to someone who desperately needs your help.”

Dr James Cant, Chief Executive Officer at Resuscitation Council UK, said: “This is a good news story, but unfortunately not all stories relating to a cardiac arrest have a positive outcome. RCUK is committed to giving people, across the UK, the skills they need to save a life – having access to a defibrillator is essential in achieving this.

“One in ten people in the UK survive a cardiac arrest out-of-hospital. The chance of survival from out-of-hospital cardiac arrest can be increased two-to-threefold by the immediate provision of bystander CPR anddefibrillation,that is why it is essential all devices are registered on The Circuit. We urge those that have not registered to do so immediately so many more lives can be saved.”

George Woods, Chief Business Officer at St John Ambulance, added: “Our volunteers across the country see first-hand each day the difference a defibrillator can make when used quickly during a cardiac arrest. In an emergency, every second counts and knowing where your nearest device is located is vital in ensuring someone has the best chance of survival.

“We’re pleased to see more people understanding the impact defibrillators can make in emergencies as the number of devices being registered onto The Circuit continues to increase. As the market leader in the provision of first aid supplies, we encourage all our customers purchasing a defibrillator to register their devices, so together, we can continue to save more lives.” 

Deputy Managing Director of the Association of Ambulance Chief Executives (AACE) Anna Parry said: “Calling 999 and being able to give CPR and early defibrillation can make a huge difference in an emergency, which is why it’s so important to know how to locate a defibrillator. The Circuit provides a national database of information and will help ensure the benefits of defibrillators are maximised and more lives saved, as more become registered.”

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